How God took care of us as our old van self-destructed...

Another story about us, our cars, and how God took care of us:

Our old van, a 1999 Pontiac Montana (the white one on the left in the photo, with lots of paint missing from its hood), served us very well. We bought it six years ago, with 97,000 miles on it. When we were done with it, it had faithfully carried us for another 128,000 or so, finishing with 225,000 on the odometer!

Recently, we realized it was wearing out, and started planning for a replacement. However, we had recently put in a rebuilt transmission, so we wanted to get some of our money's worth out of it! So, we drove it to Cocoa Beach, Florida, for our spring break vacation with Hai. It got us there without incident. It took us shopping, and to the beach, and to Orlando and back, and to the Kennedy Space Center and back, with no problem.

Then came a morning when Dan got up before the rest of the family and drove to the nearby beach to take sunrise photos. Here's one of them:

I had a very enjoyable time out on the beach. Then I got back in the Montana, and when I started it, it made a horrible shrieking noise, and smoke came out from under the hood! Argh. I opened the hood, started it again, and saw that while the engine was running, the serpentine belt wasn't moving. Um, that's not good...

So, I called AAA, waited for about half an hour, then the truck that showed was broken, too! So we both waited another hour for another tow truck. They took the van and me 20 miles to the service station. And then I had to wait about 3 hours to get it fixed.

Lots of hassle, right? Sure, but you can see how God was working it all out for us:

  • The breakdown happened while we were at Cocoa Beach, rather than on the way to or from on the highway.

  • It didn't happen on the way to Orlando, or at the Kennedy Space Center.

  • It happened with Dan alone, rather than with the whole family in the car. I had to put up with the waiting, but no one else did. They just spent a leisurely morning at the hotel.

  • The weather was good. (Imagine dealing with this while it's raining...)

  • The service station was good, honest, and efficient (they repaired a pulley and replaced the serpentine belt).

  • While I waited, I got to walk around with my camera and take some more photos! For example:

So after all that (praise God!) we made it home safely, then drove Hai to the airport when he went home, then drove all the way to Washington DC and back without further incident.

Well, except for that odd sound the engine started making on the way home from Washington. By the time we had been home for a few days, the van sounded like a go-kart! We were told it might be the a/c compressor, and you just can't drive in the summer in Georgia without air conditioning.

So Dan started researching. We have a dear friend with a Honda Odyssey, and she had let us borrow it once, so we knew the family would fit into one. We had heard good things about their reliability, too. Of course, the Montana had taken such good care of us for so long that we were open to getting another one!

Then came the day the air conditioning died. Dan gallantly took the van to work for a couple of days, so the rest of the family could at least have air conditioning using his car. It was unpleasant (and did we tell you the passenger side power window died, too?), but it's not a long drive to work.

So we did more research and found a car lot in Macon that had two used Odysseys. Gaye and Dan went, test drove them, got the Carfax reports, and picked one to take to our mechanic to check. When it came back with a clean bill of health, we bought it! It's the one on the right in the top photo on this page - a 2002 Honda Odyssey with 114,000 miles - by our standards, it's just getting broken in!

Then, a friend said he likes to work on old cars, and could he have ours? O.K., we said, but let us tell you all the stuff that's wrong with it. As he looked and listened (and found sludge in the radiator), he said it probably had a blown head gasket!

So how's that for God's timing? He kept us safe and mobile when it really mattered, let us know the car was wearing out in such a graceful way, and made it very clear it was time for another one...we know it was God watching over us!

Our new toy!

"We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
(Romans 8:28, NIV)